Author Topic: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested  (Read 3439 times)

Miss Stachio

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Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« on: March 15, 2013, 09:22:38 PM »
Hello!

One of my goals for 2013 was finding a new job which I've done (yay!) but now I have to relocate to high COL Washington DC (not yay).  My employer is formally in Virginia (ie. I think my paychecks come from that address) but my office will be in DC proper.  I've been house hunting for the past two days and have some good leads but wanted to get input from DC MMMers.

I'm a female, early 30s and would be living by myself so I'd like a safe neighborhood but I'm down with diversity.  I've been looking around Adams Morgan, some Columbia Heights and Glover Park.  It's hard finding cheap housing and Glover Park seems to have the cheapest rents so far.  However, I'm working on the mall (blue, yellow, orange line) and while I'm planning to bike most days, I'm wondering if the lack of a metro would make it hard.

Would it be worth checking out NoVa?  If so, what areas?  Capitol Hill also seems to be a place that people suggest.

So far, I've been finding studio/1 bed apartments on CL from 1400 - 1800/mo (and these are not in fancy .  Does that seem about right?  Ideally I'd like to find something for below 1600.

Any other suggestions for house hunting would be very appreciated.

Thanks!

Carolina on My Mind

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2013, 10:00:13 AM »
Hi -- I would definitely check out Arlington if I were you.  It's not necessarily a whole lot cheaper than living in the District, rent-wise, but there are a lot of nice places to live, and state income taxes are significantly lower.  I live in the Ballston-Clarendon corridor (orange line), which is a great place to live, but as far as I can tell there are no bargains to be had around here.  Still might be worth checking out, though, because you never know. 

But you might also want to take a look at Pentagon City -- I've never lived over there, but I've always had the impression that it would be a good place to live.  There are tons of apartments and you can walk to just about anything you need . . . even Costco.  And it would be an easy commute to the Mall -- only two stops to L'Enfant Plaza on the yellow line if you're taking Metro, and it is VERY easy to bike from there.  There's a really nice bike lane on the 14th Street Bridge that's fully separated from the car traffic.  I bike to work myself (I also work near the Mall), and it's a piece of cake from Arlington.  Also, CaBi (the bikeshare program) serves Pentagon City, and those CaBi bikes really come in handy even when you have your own bike.  I use them quite a bit for short trips, and occasionally for a commute when I only want to bike in one direction for whatever reason.

Before I moved to Arlington I lived in Cleveland Park for ten years, so I'm pretty familiar with Northwest as well.  (And yes, the rents you mentioned sound about right to me.)  For what it's worth, having lived in the DC area for most of my life, I think it's worth paying the premium to live within walking distance of the Metro (even if it's a long-ish walk, like Adams Morgan).  It really does make life easier.  Anyway, hope this helps, and good luck finding a place!

mc6

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2013, 11:43:03 AM »
Congrats on the new job!  I am in NoVA and those rents sound about right, and as Carolina on My Mind says, bargains are hard to find in this area when it comes to housing.  A lot of my coworkers rented rooms in suburban townhomes when they first moved to this area.  If talking about leases with the big leasing companies, see if they give discounts to employees working for your employer, this worked for me 10 years ago.  It can't hurt to ask.  Good luck!
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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2013, 12:20:27 PM »
Here's the deal:
If you want metro access for that price, you either have to live further out (Van Dorn, Huntington, Branch Ave, etc) or in a less nice area (NE DC). Alternatively, you could live in DC and be off a good bus route instead of a metro stop. Really a lot of this depends on what your definition of nice happens to be. If you're from suburbia, then it will be more difficult. If you're comfortable with a more urban environment, you'll be alright.

I've lived near (in chronological order) Branch Ave, Huntington & Van Dorn. My girlfriend lived with several roommates in Arlington and it wasn't cheap, although if you are OK walking 1-2 miles to the metro you can get stuff in your price range at Clarendon/Virginia Square/Ballston. You just have to get away from the main road(s) (Wilson) and the more corporate apartments.

You can PM me if you want, I might be able to dig up more specific recommendations.

Anner

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2013, 12:38:32 PM »
Congratulations on meeting your goal of finding the new job!  You will enjoy living in DC.  We lived there (Arlington) for almost 20 years before we moved last August.  It seems to me that the rents you mention seem slightly high (by only a couple 100, though).  It would be really fun living in the city and you may want to do that for your first year or two but it would be more expensive than Arlington.  FWIW, the daughter of a friend is looking for a roommate right now for 1 April move-in near the Clarendon stop.  1/2 the rent is $1,000.  PM me if you want more info.

Dee18

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2013, 02:19:36 PM »
I lived in DC 8 years and loved it.  I would not live anywhere that did not have great access to metro. The metro is fabulous, clean, goes great distances and, except during rush hour, you can take your bicycle on--great fun for week-end trips.  I lived on Connecticut Ave, on the red line and always felt safe.  I would urge you to reconsider solo living.  There are a lot of young professionals sharing grand old houses and townhouses in the city.  I didn't live in one, but had friends who did.  It might be a great place to live for 6-12 months.  Then you will hear about some good deal to rent on your own.

soners

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2013, 09:07:12 PM »
Personally I would look in areas like 16th Street Heights, Crestwood or Petworth.  I think being within blocks of the metro is overrated because the bus lines are so good--you'll get more for your money if you're willing to go off the lines and live somewhere with great buses (16th and 14th street lines are great, I'm sure there are other ones but those are what I'm familiar with). Some will say Petworth is not that safe--it depends on your street smarts but I'd say it's comparable to Adams Morgan (which I wouldn't say is all that safe on weekend nights when muggers are looking for easy targets)---if you are very concerned about safety, stay west of the park--somewhere like Glover Park, Cathedral Heights or Cleveland Park would be good for you--there's a good bike trail that runs up there you might try living by.  More eastward, Takoma Park is great and safe but pretty far for biking to downtown but close to the metro. Capital Hill is great, but expensive if you are close to the metro. A lot of the red line stops on the east side are developing rapidly--you could probably get more for your money there and be in good biking distance to things but you'll sacrifice some safety--really nothing that can't be handled by good street smarts though.

I personally am anti-NOVA but that's just a snobiness thing DC-ers develop. It's a much more car-based lifestyle out there, so beware of that, and I'm not sure you really get that more for your money when you stay close in.  Plus, it might limit your ability to bike in to dc.

Anner

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2013, 09:17:49 PM »
I don't know about that, soners.  We lived quite a while with one car and I bike commuted from Arlington to Bethesda for our almost 20 years there.  My husband bike commuted as well.  But yeah, there definitely is that DC snobby thing going on when you live in the city.

Miss Stachio

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2013, 09:17:39 AM »
Thanks for the input and recommendations everyone!  I thought I would have more time to check this thread during apt hunting but ended up running/biking from one apt showing to another nonstop all weekend.  In the end, I found a nice 1 bed apartment in Cleveland Park two blocks from the metro that had a special for a half month of free rent (oxymoron?) which brought the rent for a year down below $1600/mo.  My plan is to swing that for a while as I get oriented to the city and surroundings, figure out what areas I would like and are more affordable, then move to another apt or buy a rent-able property.  Maybe in the meantime I'll find a roommate to split the rent (in the form of a SO [another 2013 goal] but that's for a different thread :P ).

Anner - I appreciate your advice and the offer to connect me with a possible roommate.  That would have been nice!  I see you're living in Oahu now - that's definitely a place I'm considering moving to someday.

Dee18 - I would have liked to do a group house thing but the tight schedule made finding roommates hard.

CoMM - Thanks for the list of places.  I'll check those out in the coming months!

KatieSSS

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2013, 11:01:30 AM »
Thanks for the input and recommendations everyone!  I thought I would have more time to check this thread during apt hunting but ended up running/biking from one apt showing to another nonstop all weekend.  In the end, I found a nice 1 bed apartment in Cleveland Park two blocks from the metro that had a special for a half month of free rent (oxymoron?) which brought the rent for a year down below $1600/mo.  My plan is to swing that for a while as I get oriented to the city and surroundings, figure out what areas I would like and are more affordable, then move to another apt or buy a rent-able property.  Maybe in the meantime I'll find a roommate to split the rent (in the form of a SO [another 2013 goal] but that's for a different thread :P ).

Anner - I appreciate your advice and the offer to connect me with a possible roommate.  That would have been nice!  I see you're living in Oahu now - that's definitely a place I'm considering moving to someday.

Dee18 - I would have liked to do a group house thing but the tight schedule made finding roommates hard.

CoMM - Thanks for the list of places.  I'll check those out in the coming months!

Miss Stachio - I'm late to the convo, but can tell you I live in Glover Park/Cathedral Heigths in a studio for $1300/month with all utilities included and I love my place! I live right off of a great bus line and use Car2Go for the times I absolutely need a car. Cleveland park is fantastic, though, and I think you'll love living there. One of my best friends lives on Connecticut/Macomb. If you end up not liking the area I'd be happy to give the name of my property - you can PM me anytime!

soners

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2013, 02:29:36 PM »
I don't know about that, soners.  We lived quite a while with one car and I bike commuted from Arlington to Bethesda for our almost 20 years there.  My husband bike commuted as well.  But yeah, there definitely is that DC snobby thing going on when you live in the city.

Well, glad to know it's possible!  I really know nothing about life on the other side! You use Capital Crescent trail I guess and cross on Key Bridge?


Anyhow, OP, Cleveland Park is great, you'll like it there.  Be sure to take advantage of the zoo and try Vace's pizza!

Kevin

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2013, 02:31:52 PM »
Hello!

One of my goals for 2013 was finding a new job which I've done (yay!) but now I have to relocate to high COL Washington DC (not yay).  My employer is formally in Virginia (ie. I think my paychecks come from that address) but my office will be in DC proper.  I've been house hunting for the past two days and have some good leads but wanted to get input from DC MMMers.

I'm a female, early 30s and would be living by myself so I'd like a safe neighborhood but I'm down with diversity.  I've been looking around Adams Morgan, some Columbia Heights and Glover Park.  It's hard finding cheap housing and Glover Park seems to have the cheapest rents so far.  However, I'm working on the mall (blue, yellow, orange line) and while I'm planning to bike most days, I'm wondering if the lack of a metro would make it hard.

Would it be worth checking out NoVa?  If so, what areas?  Capitol Hill also seems to be a place that people suggest.

So far, I've been finding studio/1 bed apartments on CL from 1400 - 1800/mo (and these are not in fancy .  Does that seem about right?  Ideally I'd like to find something for below 1600.

Any other suggestions for house hunting would be very appreciated.

Thanks!

I have lived in the District for 3 years now with my wife in a one bedroom condo. I would steer clear of NoVa or any development on the orange line. They are overrun with overpriced, cookie cutter high rises that are full of college bros and the crowd is typically just out of college/first job in DC type.

Everyone comes into the city for either work or pleasure so you might as well live in the district. The city is incredibly bike friendly with lots of bike lanes. I would recommend living on a metro line and live as close as you can to work. My current commute, 10 minutes door to door walking.

Your coming at a great time too! The city is about to bloom and there are trees lining most of the streets. It's a really beautiful place in Spring/Fall.

soners

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2013, 02:44:43 PM »
Also Anner, this post just inspired a re-watching of this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T1RMuoQnKo.  It's ok, ya'll can make fun of us too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-0pgvzNHlc

...I left DC 15 months ago. Time to let go I supposed.

Anner

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2013, 03:08:12 PM »
Ah, Soners, the Arlington rap - I love that.  Makes me laugh every time.  My favorite is the Starbucks montage at the end.  Thanks for the Mt. Pleasant one too. 

Yeah, I understand the "it's too far" thing DCers think about everything outside the 202 dialing code.  I feel the same outside the 703/202 dialing codes but my 703 extends only to the Arlington border.  Fairfax is too far

As I mentioned before, if just moving there and especially if you don't have a family - live in the city!  Enjoy it...

Fletch

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2013, 03:18:32 PM »
I agree with people who say living in the city (versus in NoVa/Silver spring/Bethesda) is better. The reason I say this is the metro is currently undergoing constant weekend track work, as in waiting 40-60 min for a train on top of the 20-40 min ride itself. If you live in the district, there are plenty of buses, bike trails, and bike shares to make this a non-issue to get around the district, but getting in and out of the suburbs is problematic.

It sounds like you found a place already, so this probably doesn't help you, but it might help some other poor soul.

Second the recommendation for Vace's pizza in Cleveland park.

mikefixac

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2013, 10:23:02 PM »
I'll throw my two cents in and most likely will be roundly criticized.

Part MMM and part non MMM.

I grew up in District Heights, MD. The address is 2109 Springholly Dr, Dist Hgts, MD 20747. Google map the house.

Now for some reason whites stay away from this area. (Dist Hgts is now mostly black.) But whenever I'm back there, the neighbors are the kindest, friendliest people you could find. The house is all brick that has 2200 square feet and I'm guessing 1/4 acre. And though our street has 2 entrances, it's almost like a cul de sac. Only people who live there have need to use the street.

The house was lovingly taken care of during the time my family lived in it. From what I now understand, the house is now worth only $100-$150K. I don't get it, but just because of the so called "bad area" (and the house has never been broken into) people will pay 2-5 times as much to live somewhere else.

When I worked briefly at the Tax Court, I used to ride my bike from home to work everyday.

It's non MMM only that it will be farther away from your job. But you're a hell of lot closer to the Bay to spend some wonderful weekends exploring the beautiful country side.
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mm1970

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2013, 05:15:48 PM »
I lived in the area years ago (1992-1997).  I lived in Ballston, Crystal City and Pentagon City.  I would recommend all three.  All near the metro, not necessarily cheap.  It was my first job out of college. :)  I was in the Navy.

Miss Stachio

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2013, 07:34:10 PM »
Hey! I've moved to DC and survived one exhausting week of moving, work, apartment organizing and, most importantly, exploring the zoo every day.  I thought I would post a overview of what I found from my apartment search for the sake of... just recording stuff.  Maybe someone will find this useful in the next couple of months.

DC housing review for renting (please note that unless otherwise stated, 1 beds here are generally tiny)

- My search was mostly in NW DC because I wanted to be in the city and near the 'happening' stuff (single -- need to meet the boys!) and feel safe

In terms of what I found in the neighborhoods I looked at

Glover Park was cheap ($1400 all incl for a large 1 bed), less accessible by metro but had a nice homey feel, with restaurants and a whole foods nearby.  You might want a car for this hood but KatieSSS, above, would probably disagree

Adams Morgan - There were a couple of blocks that seemed a bit loud but the surrounding areas were nice, pretty expensive here (1800 for 1 bed, 1500 for studios) although I did find a 2000 sqft 2 bed for $2400 (but didn't have a roommate lined up the sign the lease with... I was pretty bummed I couldn't take it)

Woodley/Cleveland: Nice, calm area, (kind of like the UWS in NYC), on red metro line, family friendly, lots of trees and green stuff but (inexpensive) groceries are a bit far away. I was able to find a large 1 bed (1000 sqft) for 1900, a smaller 1 bed for 1800

Mount Pleasant: Seemed like a interesting area, a little funkier.  Found a 1 bed for 1600$.

DuPont Circle - Nice neighborhood, lots happening here, friendly, walkable, groceries.  Studios run around 1600$.

U street Lots of restaurants and seems to be hip.  Didn't spend much time here but heard that 1 beds were going for 2000$.

There are some good deals on english basement apartments.  I didn't choose one because I only had a few days to apt hunt and the ones I saw were dark and ramshackle and still pretty expensive.  However, I've seen very beautiful ones pop on CL every now and then.  The ones farther from metro lines tend to be cheaper.

Apt hunting here was a pain.  I thought I could find one in 2 days but ended up staying for 4.  I was also lucky that I had friends who networked for me.  I looked at things I found on Craiglist but after a couple of days, changed my strategy to walking around neighborhoods I liked and walking in where I saw "Now Leasing" signs.  That was how I got the apartment I'm in now.  Sometimes the apartments will be running deals where there will be a discount on one month of rent which is significant given the rent rates.  I think this may be the best method for finding an apartment.  However, it does require a significant time commitment.

Another thing I thought was interesting is that my apartment is rent controlled and the rent on it has almost doubled in 2 years.  Which I think is insane.  So, keep an eye out for rent controlled deals.  Always ask the rental manager what the lowest rent they have is.  Sometimes the rent for the same type of apartment in the same building will have drastically different rents.

I've been having a blast so far in DC.  Hope to organize a mini-MMM meetup soon.

Miss Stachio

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2013, 07:39:31 PM »
I'll throw my two cents in and most likely will be roundly criticized.

Part MMM and part non MMM.

I grew up in District Heights, MD. The address is 2109 Springholly Dr, Dist Hgts, MD 20747. Google map the house.

Now for some reason whites stay away from this area. (Dist Hgts is now mostly black.) But whenever I'm back there, the neighbors are the kindest, friendliest people you could find. The house is all brick that has 2200 square feet and I'm guessing 1/4 acre. And though our street has 2 entrances, it's almost like a cul de sac. Only people who live there have need to use the street.

The house was lovingly taken care of during the time my family lived in it. From what I now understand, the house is now worth only $100-$150K. I don't get it, but just because of the so called "bad area" (and the house has never been broken into) people will pay 2-5 times as much to live somewhere else.

When I worked briefly at the Tax Court, I used to ride my bike from home to work everyday.

It's non MMM only that it will be farther away from your job. But you're a hell of lot closer to the Bay to spend some wonderful weekends exploring the beautiful country side.

Hey, that's good to know.  I'm looking to buy if it looks like I'm going to stay in the area for a few year.  I'll keep this city in mind.

Fletch

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2013, 11:38:48 AM »

- My search was mostly in NW DC because I wanted to be in the city and near the 'happening' stuff (single -- need to meet the boys!) and feel safe

HA! There are not that many straight, single men living in the city, and bars arent the place to find them (power/ego complexs are everywhere though). I recommend sports leagues that assign somewhat random teams.

KatieSSS

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2013, 12:36:38 PM »

- My search was mostly in NW DC because I wanted to be in the city and near the 'happening' stuff (single -- need to meet the boys!) and feel safe

HA! There are not that many straight, single men living in the city, and bars arent the place to find them (power/ego complexs are everywhere though). I recommend sports leagues that assign somewhat random teams.

Totally agree. Never dated a guy from meeting him at a DC bar! Mutual friends, social meet-up groups, and sports leagues as mentioned are your best bet.

I know some people have a car in the Glover Park area, but I've only had a problem getting anywhere on the weekends when the bus runs less frequently. But I'm right off Wisconsin Ave, so buses are abundant even on weekends. I wouldn't dream of having a car in DC, but I'm very anti-car :) The hassle is not worth it for me! Zipcar and Car2Go cover all of my needs.

NICE!

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2013, 09:13:39 PM »

- My search was mostly in NW DC because I wanted to be in the city and near the 'happening' stuff (single -- need to meet the boys!) and feel safe

HA! There are not that many straight, single men living in the city, and bars arent the place to find them (power/ego complexs are everywhere though). I recommend sports leagues that assign somewhat random teams.

Totally agree. Never dated a guy from meeting him at a DC bar! Mutual friends, social meet-up groups, and sports leagues as mentioned are your best bet.

I know some people have a car in the Glover Park area, but I've only had a problem getting anywhere on the weekends when the bus runs less frequently. But I'm right off Wisconsin Ave, so buses are abundant even on weekends. I wouldn't dream of having a car in DC, but I'm very anti-car :) The hassle is not worth it for me! Zipcar and Car2Go cover all of my needs.

I disagree that decent single straight men don't go to DC bars, my friends and I used to go out in the district all the time. Our favorite areas were U Street, Dupont and Adams Morgan.

I will agree that you should look into the sports leagues if you want to mingle - I really enjoyed kickball the one spring I did it. Almost everyone fit your criteria. I joined with a female friend of mine, which was a great idea and provided someone to help me ease into a new group of people.

AtlantaBob

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2013, 08:22:25 PM »
I've been having a blast so far in DC.  Hope to organize a mini-MMM meetup soon.

As a relatively-new DC-ite myself, that sounds like a great idea! It would be neat to meet some of the folks on this board in real life. And for those of us who have just moved to a new city, it's great to meet friends away from work. Let me know if I can help.

Dee18

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2013, 08:37:26 PM »
Cleveland Park is great!  That was my metro stop when I lived in DC.  I always felt safe there and found it terrifically convenient.  It is so fun to be able to walk downhill to the museums, etc, on a Saturday and then catch the subway home if you don't feel like walking back.  I am sure you will have a wonderful time living in DC.

El Gringo

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2013, 09:55:05 AM »
An MMM meet up would be pretty fun! I've been in DC coming up on three years. I currently live in SE Capitol Hill.

For all you bike riders out there, there's going to be a pretty sweet bike around next Sunday that goes around the entire border of of Old DC (Did you know that Arlington and Alexandria used to be part of DC?): http://www.facebook.com/events/604374832925724/

Fletch

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2013, 11:42:11 AM »
Jazz in the park at the sculpture garden and free movie nights in NOMA start up toward the end of may, I think a picnic meetup at one of those would be great.

Miss Stachio

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Re: Moving to Washington DC - Housing help requested
« Reply #26 on: May 21, 2013, 03:52:51 PM »
Holy smokes!  I've been so crushed at the new job that I haven't checked this thread in a while.  Thanks for all the suggestions regarding what to do as a single!  I actually don't drink alcohol so when I wrote 'near the happening stuff' I meant the mall (the green one, not the shopping one), cafes, parks, libraries...  Hmm, maybe need to reconsider the statistics of meeting people in those venues.

Jazz in the sculpture garden with a picnic sounds great for a DC MMM meetup.  Is there space for picnicking there?
« Last Edit: May 21, 2013, 03:55:11 PM by Miss Stachio »